The simplest way to keep your diet on song during holiday season while all around you are clinking glasses, binging buffets and sinking cake is to stay at home, avoid all social engagements, and only emerge from your hermit-like existence to train like a monster and stock up on vegetables, fruit and water.
However, this advice only works if you:
- Have no friends
- Have friends, but never want any of them to call you ever again
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So in the real world, let's forget all about that particular performance diet plan because clearly it sucks. Even that hardest of hard core trainers, Rocky, took his mates with him when he holed up in that winter chalet to prep for pummeling Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.
Instead let's look at how to sail effortlessly through holiday season while partying hard, training harder and keeping your A-game within easy striking distance at all times so you can emerge ready to tackle challenges and races head on, hard, fast and happy.
Performance diet tip #1: booze
Alcohol and performance don't go hand in hand, and on every metric alcohol will slow you down. But, if you enjoy a drink total abstinence during the holidays is simply never going to happen and trying to do so will only wind you up.
Kombucha - aka fermented tea - is a superb alternative to an alcoholic beverage on a warm summers evening. Sophisticated, tasty and great for gut health too. Winner
Instead, be aware of drinking to habit and look to rein that in. These are the occasions when you reach for that beer/wine/bucket of rum punch because it's there. While this may sound like the unthinking behaviour of either an ape or a five-year-old in an ice cream shop, it's a common pitfall for most of us.
- Going to the pub with mates? Order a beer
- Drinks party at a friend's house? Have drinks
- Christmas breakfast? Pass the egg nog
Many of our responses in these situations have been conditioned through a lifetime of behaviour however, and some can easily be deleted where they're not helpful.
Instead of reaching for a pint on autopilot, be more cognisant about what you're drinking
So if you find yourself on autopilot about to order a drink you actually don't want, swap it out for something soft and start swapping out your unhelpful, unconscious actions, for helpful, conscious ones.
Performance diet tip #2: food
The summer season is a time to let our hair down and ever since we were kids, party time means party food and the nature of this stuff hasn't changed since then either.
Whether it's dressed up as posh hors d'oeuvres and amuse bouches on a silver platter served by demure black tied waiters at a palace ball, or dressed down as cake, chips and dip being thrown about the playroom by a screaming army of kids at a birthday party, 99% of party food means big sugar, big saturated fat, and more additives than you can shake a bulging waistband at.
And none of it is going to make you faster.
That said, a little of it really isn't going to kill you either. As outlined in this piece on the ultimate diet for endurance athletes, 10% of the time you should really eat what the heck you like for the sake of your sanity and social life.
The trick to making this fly during holiday season is:
- Avoid those same unconscious reactions discussed above to food, and make sure you're eating what you want to eat not what a lifetime's unthinking behaviour has lead you to eat
- Preparation: load your larder with a ready supply of healthy, powerful food in advance so it's always on hand when you're home, and also consider cooking up a load of good meals in advance to throw in the freezer
- Consider our Pre and Post Workout Shakes as the most powerful hit of performance-specific nutrients you'll find anywhere. They're the ultimate insurance for your fitness against a party diet
Designed to support your most important training blocks and races, our unique Elite Meal Replacement Shakes are also the ultimate insurance for your fitness during those periods when your diet's not fully on point whether that's while traveling for work or while balancing partying and training during the holidays
Performance diet tip #3: training
Now this one really is the easiest to deal with:
Don't stop - keep showing up, and keep doing the work
But don't go nuts either. Pushing for PBs while partying every other night is going to lead to exhaustion and negative results at best.
Keep training over the holidays, keep your expectations on point and stay awesome
And schedule smart.
Even a 30-minute session the night before or morning after party time will pay back huge rewards both psychologically and physically. If in doubt, remember point 1 above - keep showing up, keep doing the work
Performance diet tip #4: enjoy yourself
No explanation needed here. Here's to the holidays and your peformance!